Eyewitness: Read the fine print…


…on economy “growing”
Over the years, your Eyewitness has been railing about a seemingly esoteric subject of measuring the performance of our economy. Now, we all have a vested interest in this metric, since one would expect that as the economy grows, we should presumably have a chance of doing better. A chance. So, every year, we get bulletins from the Government or from the multilateral institutions like the World Bank or the IDB etc, on the status of our GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (GDP) or the GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT (GNP).
The GDP is basically the total value of all the goods and services produced within our borders, and the GNP is the total value of the same, but produced by Guyanese nationals – persons or corporations. So, back in the day, when we’d just gotten independence, we used to get all kinds of advice on how to increase our GDP by inviting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Problem was that these foreign companies like Alcan in bauxite or Bookers in sugar (and everything else) would send all their profits back to their “home” countries. Apart from the very minimum wages they paid their local workers, what did they do for us?
And so, when you hear all these fantastic sounding numbers, like the latest one from the IDB, that our GDP grew last year by 43%, and you know that almost all of that “growth” was from oil, of which we are only keeping a measly 14.5%, let’s not get too excited. Cause you know that the 85.5% of the profits are going straight to the US and China. (Most folks somehow forget that CNOOC owns 25% of the Stabroek Block!) Look at the fine print and you’ll see that the “non-oil” economy, on the whole, actually SHRUNK by over 7%!!
So, between the two, your Eyewitness always felt the GNP was a better metric – on the assumption that local business owners would invest their profits here, employ more Guyanese, and create a virtuous circle. The bottom line should be whether our lives – we, the people’s lives – were improving or not. So, a further distinction has been made between “growth” and “development”. The first referred to the economy, and the second referred to people. And it was out of these concerns that the UNDP started their “Human Development Index”.
This index combines four major indicators: life expectancy for health, expected years of schooling, mean of years of schooling for education, and Gross National Income per capita for standard of living. Gross National Income per capita – that is, how much each one of us actually makes.
For the record, we’re still ranked 122 out of 189 countries – way below even next-door Suriname!

…on same-sex relations

Monday was International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. And the Western envoys called upon the authorities to decriminalise same-sex relations. Now, isn’t this a shame and a disgrace? Why should it take foreigners to tell us we should not discriminate against fellow human beings and citizens to choose whom they will have sex with? Isn’t that a private matter? Isn’t that their human right?
Most of the resistance seems to be coming from the Pentecostal wing of the Christian Church in Guyana. The problem with their stance is that these folks are using a text – the Bible – which was used to justify the enslavement of tens of millions of Africans for hundreds of years. This crime against humanity found “justification” in the same book with the story of Noah and his sons – that now tells them that human beings should be condemned to damnation for following inclinations with which they are born.
Doesn’t the source of their objections at least make them question their hostility?

…on COVID-19

So, the authorities are finally accepting that we have one or more variants of COVID-19 circulating in Guyana? What to do?
As an editorial in this newspaper suggested, let’s use the “SOCIAL VACCINE” in observing the protocols.